Oil lobby breaks tradition to register as third party in federal election

by Emma Graney

The lobby group that represents Canada’s oil sector has registered for the first time as a political third party, stepping up its advocacy efforts ahead of October’s federal election.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) told Postmedia it’s not aligned with any specific party. But changes to the Canada Elections Act mean it must register if it’s to discuss, during the writ period, issues that could be associated with a particular candidate.

“Given that energy remains one of the top issues being discussed by political leaders, we registered as a third party to allow us to represent our members on key issues that impact the oil and natural gas industry,” media relations manager Jay Averill said in an email.

The move comes after three Alberta-based oil companies took out ads in major newspapers earlier this month.

Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy and MEG Energy co-signed an open letter urging Canadians to consider the 30 per cent reduction in emission intensity from the oilsands during the past 20 years.

Although CAPP wasn’t part of that effort, Averill said the open letter was “a great way to speak directly to Canadians.”

“The world needs more Canadian energy and it’s time to step up and deliver that message,” he said.

UCP urges oil companies to speak up

It’s something Canadians can expect to see more of in the coming months.

On Page 99 of its election platform, the UCP promised it would ask the energy industry to “significantly increase its advocacy efforts.”

Christine Myatt, Premier Jason Kenney’s press secretary, said Kenney and Energy Minister Sonya Savage have met with oil and gas companies over the past several months and encouraged them to talk more about their industry.

“These were productive conversations and we have found the Alberta energy industry is enthusiastically on the same page,” Myatt said in an email.

It’s not as though the energy sector lacks the resources to speak for itself, with operating profits increasing by $1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Thanks to rising oil prices, the sector went from a $678 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2018 to a profit of $909 million, according to Statistics Canada.

Cenovus spokesperson Rhona DelFrari told Postmedia the recent ads were in the works before the provincial election, and had nothing to do with Kenney’s request that the oil and gas sector speak up.

“That said, we agree with the premier that the oil and gas industry has been a bit more silent than we should be,” DelFrari said in an interview.

She noted the past 10 years has seen an increased focus on environmental, social and governance issues in the sector.

“This industry has always had the opinion that as long as we’re doing things the right way and developing the resource responsibly … we don’t probably need to be out there boasting about our excellent performance because we’re delivering on it,” DelFrari said.

“Maybe that assumption wasn’t necessarily the right one.”

DelFrari said although no more ads have been booked, her sector needs to do a better job helping bureaucrats and politicians of all stripes understand the industry.



Oil lobby breaks tradition to register as third party in federal election

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